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Doctor Zhivago (1965)

tomatometer

85

Average Rating: 7.2/10
Reviews Counted: 33
Fresh: 28 | Rotten: 5

It may not be the best of David Lean's epics, but Dr. Zhivago is still brilliantly photographed and sweepingly romantic.

57

Average Rating: 6.1/10
Critic Reviews: 7
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 3

It may not be the best of David Lean's epics, but Dr. Zhivago is still brilliantly photographed and sweepingly romantic.

audience

88

liked it
Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 44,620

My Rating

Movie Info

Based on the Nobel Prize-winning novel by Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago covers the years prior to, during, and after the Russian Revolution, as seen through the eyes of poet/physician Yuri Zhivago (Omar Sharif). In the tradition of Russian novels, a multitude of characters and subplots intertwine within the film's 197 minutes (plus intermission). Zhivago is married to Tonya (Geraldine Chaplin), but carries on an affair with Lara (Julie Christie), who has been raped by ruthless politician

PG-13,

Drama, Television, Romance, Classics

Boris Pasternak, Robert Bolt

Jan 1, 1998

MGM

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All Critics (33) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (28) | Rotten (5) | DVD (21)

Literate, oldfashioned, soul-filling and thoroughly romantic.

August 24, 2008 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

David Lean's 1965 adaptation of Pasternak's romance of the Russian Revolution is intelligent and handsomely mounted, though it doesn't use its length to build to a particularly complex emotional effect.

August 13, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

One of the most meticulously designed and executed films.

August 13, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Steiger and Courtenay excepted, all the performances are very uncomfortable.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Mr. Bolt has reduced the vast upheaval of the Russian Revolution to the banalities of a doomed romance.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times | Comments (2)
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Although its portentous historical drama evaporates once you return to the fresh air, watching it can be seductive.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Epic drama combines romance, politics, mature themes.

December 30, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

it is to be respected for the massive success and artistry of the decade in which it was made

May 13, 2010 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures

A triumph of great entertainment. Whether it is great filmmaking is a matter of taste.

April 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Film Snobbery
Film Snobbery

...a passionate movie about passionate people in passionate times.

April 26, 2010 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

[Lean] seems out of his element.

January 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid | Comments (3)
Combustible Celluloid

Laborious, but beautifully crafted 193 minute opus from the master of epic cinema, David Lean.

March 4, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

Combining skill and kitsch in equal measure, David Lean's overbloated epic (a disappointing follow-up to Lawrence of Arabia) offers guilty pleasure so long as you don't expect a faithful adaptation of Joe Pasternak's novel about the Russian Revolution.

August 17, 2007 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

As always, Lean's handling of the purely physical aspects of the material is spectacular.

August 13, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Beautiful cinematography...and set design...together with excellent performances combine to form Zhivago's timeless appeal

August 21, 2006 Full Review Source: Cinema Writer
Cinema Writer

David Lean masterpiece has great performances, sets

July 13, 2005
Video-Reviewmaster.com

Fails to excite the imagination.

May 1, 2004 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews | Comments (4)
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Long, but lovely and romantic, and epic!

August 30, 2002
Zap2it.com

Lean's mastery of the epic form makes up for a weak central love story

November 25, 2001 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

Often the dialogue is nearly as rich as the costumes and settings.

September 26, 2001 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

Lean's last great film.

April 17, 2001 Full Review Source: BBC.com

Audience Reviews for Doctor Zhivago

Epic films were a standout aspect of 1960's cinema. Filmmakers took bold risks in telling a great story with their films; hence the decade had some truly unique films. Lawrence of Arabia was one such film, another one was Doctor Zhivago, both films were directed by filmmaker David Lean, who seemed more at ease with himself directing big,, ambitious movies, therefore his work Has been some of the finest in the cinematic medium. His work would only be matched by other filmmakers like Stanley Kubrick and Sergio Leone, and the way he made a film elevated the medium to new possibilities. My favorite film of Lean's will always be Lawrence of Arabia, but with Doctor Zhivago, he crafts another grand epic that is brilliantly directed and acted. The story is set amidst the First World War as well as the Russian revolution, and it's a love story, but the way it's crafted is superb. This is a long film, and I do feel that it could have been shortened slightly. I would say that because of this, David Lean might be an acquired taste, but to those who want n epic picture to watch, Doctor Zhivago is one of the classics in the genre, but personally, I don't think it's Lean's best, like I said, I think Lawrence of Arabia is his finest film, and he delivers something great with that one, but here he nonetheless does some good work, and he manages to craft another worthwhile epic. I loved the film, but like I said, maybe Lean could have cut his film down a bit, as three plus hours of storytelling is a bit much. Doctor Zhivago is a great accomplishment, but it's not a film that demands repeat viewers due to its length, in other words it's hard to get into, and it's not a film that has much action, because it focuses more on its performances, storytelling and it's one of those movies that takes its time for the story to unfold. I would recommend this movie to viewers that enjoy a long, ambitious film, and if you don't mind a long picture, this is worth seeing. With a great story at hand and phenomenal cast of talented actors, David Lean's crafts a great picture that reigns as one of cinema's finest works.
May 12, 2014
TheDudeLebowski65
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

This very large scale production created a frenzy for romantic period dramas, and was the second epic directed by David Lean. Lean directed very large films, but this three and a half hour historical drama about the Russian revolution, and two lovers ensnared in the politics of the country, is much larger in scope than say "Lawrence of Arabia." The film grew in popularity after the soundtrack was released and the beautifully haunting "Lara's Song" came to public attention. The entire film is made of wintry landscapes and broken people, trying to understand what has happened to their ways of life after the Bolsheviks seized power. The two lovers are Yuri (Sharif) and Lara (Christie), who meet very late in the film, after the revolution has seized the country. Both are married and have children, but find themselves connected to one another thanks to a physical attraction and their own sense of propriety in a time of rebellion. Though the lovers' lives are prominent in the film, it's really a grand epic about Russian history, and literature. Yuri is a poet, a musician, and a physician while Lara does what work she can to get by. Yuri is well off but after the revolution he and his family fall into poverty. Lara has always had to struggle and now is limited by her education and her link to her husband, a leader in the new political sphere. This film spans decades, many locations, and flaunts death in the face of the viewer as easily as a running gag. Though their chemistry is riveting, and their inevitable and depressing end is entertaining, it's them as individuals that makes the film successful. When they're separated onscreen we wait for them to finally be reunited, but more importantly, for them to survive the cruel taunts of a new country, devoid of humanism. They're addressed as characters before they're slapped into a couple, and though their circumstances are very tragic, they are not always defined by the other person. This goes especially for Yuri, because he's the man, so of course he has the most interesting story and character development, but Lara too has her own agency at times, and a troubled past. It's a beautiful film, and if there's one thing you should focus on, it's the vast and all-encompassing cinematography. Some of these scenes have such vibrant color, stoic figures, and huge sets, that it's too much to take in. It's a marvel that something this big became such a big success, or even that it keeps its tone throughout, but the film is very successful in these respects. It's colossal without showing its weight, and it moves pleasantly along, like a quick train ride through the Russian countryside.
November 10, 2013
FrizzDrop

Super Reviewer

In hindsight Pasternak's story seems like an overlong explanation to his children as to why he cheated on dear old devoted mom once he's been caught ... but what an explanation! "There was a revolution! There was a war!" Lean majestically brings his doomed couple together, all while some oddly familiar music waltzes through the background. Fun.
January 2, 2013
ApeneckFletcher

Super Reviewer

Of the David Lean films that I've seen and liked, this is the one I enjoyed the least. It probably has to do with the fact that it's been years since I've seen it, I only remember fragments and broad strokes of what happens, and I saw it at a time when I wasn't familiar with Lean, and wasn't quite the cinema buff I am today.

Based on an award winning novel, this is a grandiose love story set in Russia before, during, and after the Bolshevik Revolution. It is a sweeping historical romance film, and really provides a great look at one of the most interesting and tumultuous times in history.

It's also extremely long, and rather tedious at times, but, since it's Lean, it looks absolutely gorgeous, there's wonderful art direction, sets, and costumes, and Maurice Jarre delivers a magnificent score. Omar Sharif stars as the title character, who starts out married, but gets into an affair with the gorgeous Lara who had been raped by a ruthless politician. Like most, if not all Russian literature, there's way too many characters and subplots, and sometimes it gets really confusing keeping everything sorted out, but in the end, this is still a stunning film.

Unless you're just die hard though, it doesn't really bear too many repeated viewings, but, that being said, I probably owe it to myself to see it again from a more informed and mature perspective.
October 4, 2012
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

    1. Pasha Strelnikov: Monsieur Komarovsky; I hope I don't offend you. Do people improve with age?
    2. Komarovsky: They grow a little more tolerant.
    3. Pasha Strelnikov: Because they have more to tolerate in themselves.
    – Submitted by G Thomas B (15 months ago)
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